Ret. U.S. Gen. on Why Troop Surge Needed in Iraq

Jan. 8, 2007 — -- President Bush is expected to face tough questions and skeptism this week from the new Democratic Congress when he announces a plan to send as many as 20,000 more American troops to Iraq.

More than a dozen hearings on the president's Iraq policy are planned, beginning this week, and some Democratic leaders are even talking about withholding funding to pay for the new troops.

"If the president wants to expand the mission, that's a conversation he has to have with the Congress of the United States," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "But that's not a carte blanche, a blank check to him to do whatever he wishes there."

Troops Will Stay to Stabilize Neighborhoods

Retired Gen. Jack Keane, a strong advocate of a troop surge, has advised the White House on the strategy. Keane told "Good Morning America" today that the majority of troops would go to Baghdad, where most of the sectarian violence has occurred, and go door-to-door clearing the area of insurgents.

Though the U.S.-led contingent has done that before in Baghdad and other cities, this time, Keane said, troops would stay in the neighborhoods to keep them safe.

"We've never had enough troops to hold those neighborhoods," he said. "But this time, the operation and the mission will be to secure the population…We will put a force in 24/7 that stays in the neighborhoods, does not go back to its bases, and it protects the people."

While Democrats are not united on withholding funding, there does seem to be general agreement that a surge is a mistake.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., called the troop surge plan a recipe for disaster.

"We're going to have our troops go door-to-door in 23 neighborhoods. This is a prescription for another tragedy, more troops in harm's way," Biden said.

However, Keane said Biden's statements were "based on ignorance."

"You're telling me that there's a capital city in the world that the foremost military in the world cannot secure the population in a given city?" Keane said on "GMA." "That's just rubbish."

Keane said stabilizing Iraq so it could be turned over to the Iraqi government could take 18 months to two years.

Rice Will Testify on Plan This Week

The solution, many Democrats say, has be a political one from within Iraq, not a military one imposed by the United States.

Surge supporters, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., say that a political solution cannot happen without an escalation in troops

"By surging troops and bringing security to Baghdad and other areas, we will give the Iraqis and their partners the best possible chances to succeed," McCain said.

But even some Republicans are expressing serious doubts about the proposed surge. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., told Fox News that President Bush can no longer count on his party to support his plans.

Political pressure will come to bear this week, particularly when Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is called before the House and Senate to testify about the administration's new plan.